Wisconsin Tree Farmer Receives Annual Sustainable Forestry Honor Sponsored by STIHL
WASHINGTON—The American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), a program of the American Forest Foundation, has named Joe Arington of Wisconsin the 2013 North Central Region Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year, an annual sustainable forestry honor sponsored by STIHL, Inc.
Every year, ATFS inspecting foresters and state committees nominate certified Tree Farmers whose conservation efforts, outreach efforts to their community, and advocacy for sustainable forest management exceed expectations.
“Joe has done a lot of work to be a true steward of the land. He is committed to improving the land and providing an environment where other landowners can visit and educate themselves. Joe takes the role of good land stewardship to the next level,” said Shirley Bargander, Chair of the Wisconsin Tree Farm Committee.
When he purchased his first 20 acres near Cambridge, Wisconsin in 1999, Arington knew it would take some work to make the land healthy.
Having spent his life’s work in business with no forestry background, Arington sought out opportunities to educate himself. He attended a field day of the local chapter of Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association and soon returned to his property with several ideas for goals and actions on his land.
Shortly after that initial field day, Arington contacted a consulting forester to have a management plan written for his land. This initial management plan provided a 25-year blueprint for managing what would soon become Arington Tree Farm.
Arington currently manages 160 certified acres of forestland and owns thousands more acres of woodlands, marshes, ponds, streams, grassland, and cropland. More than 130,000 trees have been planted on Arington Tree Farm over the past decade. The family maintains a blog about their land called Under the Oak Tree which can be read at http://blog.aringtontreefarm.com/.
Seven grandchildren live on or near the property, and regularly take part in buggy rides, walks, swimming, firewood cutting, and field projects. The family hosts nearly 100 students annually for Arbor Day festivities and they have developed a partnership with the Walbridge School, a small charter school in Madison. Walbridge students visit Arington Tree Farm multiple times a year to engage in stewardship projects, learn about forests and forest management, and enjoy the rural setting.
“Arington Tree Farm is becoming one of the premier sites in the country at demonstrating the power of people and land coming together. I’m inspired by how a father, daughters, and grandchildren are learning to love a place. But even more importantly that they also recognize the opportunity to share their passion for wood, water, recreation and wildlife as part of a larger community,” said Buddy Huffaker, President & Executive Director of the Aldo Leopold Foundation.
Arington and his fellow regional awardees were chosen after Tree Farm site visits by Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year inspecting forester judges. The National Tree Farmer of the Year, announced at July’s National Tree Farmer Convention in Minneapolis, is chosen from among these regional honorees, who will all attend this year’s convention and participate in a panel discussion about their sustainable forestry work.
The Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year awards are generously sponsored by STIHL, Inc., manufacturer of the number one selling brand of handheld outdoor power equipment in America. STIHL is proud to support the accomplishments of hard-working Tree Farmers from across the country. The four regional awardees will each receive a $500 Gift Certificate from STIHL and travel assistance to the National Tree Farmer Convention.
The other regional awardees are John William Bembry of Georgia, Bill and Joan Arsenault of Oregon, and Allen R. Yale, Jr. of Vermont.
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The American Tree Farm System® is a network of 82,000 family forest owners sustainably managing 24 million acres of forestland. It is the largest and oldest sustainable woodland system in the United States, internationally recognized, meeting strict third-party certification standards. The American Tree Farm System® is a program of the American Forest Foundation. Learn more at www.treefarmsystem.org/awards-recognition.